Monday, December 03, 2007

Two Too (and tutu) Funny

The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story
by Lemony Snicket
McSweeny's Books, 2007

Review copy...well, that's part of the whole story.

Report cards went home today, so I finally had time to take my tired, crabby self to the public library to complain about the online reserve system not working (a boatload of graphic novels for my CYBILS Graphic Novels Nominating Committee reading pleasure, if you must know). I went to one branch and they had the gall to tell me, "We're not really part of the library system, we just use their online reserves." So I went to the nearest for-real branch, and got my books custom-reserved by the guy at the help desk. He even went to look for a couple he thought might be on their shelves. While he did that, I wandered over to the new books display in the children's section. I picked up The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story. It was smaller than I expected. I glanced through it, and there was definitely a screaming latke inside. I saw the familiar images that Educating Alice linked to. I started reading. I started laughing out loud. I was no longer tired and crabby.

This book has a brilliant lead: "This story ends in someone's mouth, but it begins in a village more or less covered in snow." It is filled with classic Snicket-isms, most notably: "...a word that here means..." It features a latke that is sick to death of being Christmas-ized, like when the Christmas lights suggest, "So you're basically hash browns. Maybe you can be served alongside a Christmas ham," or when the candy cane says, "Someone should write a Christmas carol about you." I would have sprayed my milk out my nose if I'd been drinking any when the cute little pine tree says, "But different things can often blend together. Let me tell you a funny story about pagan rituals."

Anne at Book Buds has a great review. Her final paragraph answers the question, "Is this really a kids' book?" Check it out. I totally agree with her.

So I was feeling much better after I read The Latke. (And even better when I learned that I had finally discovered a book BEFORE Franki!) Then I opened the package that came in the mail and found another great laugh (yes, sigh, recommended by Franki):

by Melanie Watt (of Scaredy Squirrel fame)
Kids Can Press, 2007

Our cat is 20 years old. She has been reduced to the essence of cat by her age: skeleton, fur, loud demanding yowl, and attitude. If she were fat and had access to a red marker, she would be Chester. Poor Melanie! She's just trying to write a story about a mouse who lives in the country, but Chester keeps doodling all over her work, and changing it to suit himself, and to make himself the star of the story. When Melanie demands that he hand over the marker and apologize before the count of three, Chester has the nerve to assume position and "play the cello" instead! I'm pretty sure that's the kitty version of thumbing one's nose (since cats don't have opposed thumbs, after all). It all works out in the end. Mostly for Melanie and the mouse, but that's fair, since Chester got his all the way through the book. (The end is whence the tutu in the post title, in case you were wondering about that.)

So there you have it. A couple of sure-fire mood elevators. Take two and call me in the morning. Tell me how hard you laughed and how much better you felt for reading them!


  1. I LOVE Chester. Just finished a review for TEOTF. I'll add one thing: It makes for a great dual read aloud. I read Melanie's part and my son read Chester's. We had the best time ever :)

  2. Gosh, I'd seen Chester but it hadn't clicked that it's by the same Melanie that brought us Scaredy Squirrel. I shall now activly hunt it down!

  3. Many thanks for the link on Latkes! And I loved Chester too. It just seems to get funnier with each read.

    What I really love about Watt is how well she nails her neurotic characters.

    Happy Holidays!


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